The North-Eastern Council Act, 1971

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The North-Eastern Council Act, 1971 (Act No. 84 of 1971) was enacted with the view to make provisions for setting up of a council for North-Eastern areas of India to be called ‘The North-Eastern Council’. Such North-Eastern Areas were constituted under The North-Easter area (Recognition) Act, 1971. The Section 1 of the Act deals with date of its enforcement, which should not be earlier date to the appointed day within the provision of The North-Easter area (Recognition) Act, 1971.

The Act under Section 2 of the Act defines certain terms including Council, which means North-Eastern Council set up under the provisions of this Act, Similarly, the Act provides for clarification to the effect that the North Eastern Areas to be comprising of the State of Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura and the Union Territories of Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram.

The very important provision that is section 3 of the Act, deals with setting up an composition of the North-Eastern Council, which should consist of list of members provided under this provision. The list of members should includes, the persons for time being holding the officer of the Governor of States or the office of Administrator of the Union Territories in the North-Eastern areas and Chief minister of the States of Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura and of Union Territory of Mizoram. Further it should also include the single Counselor to the Administrators of the Union Territory of Arunachal Pradesh. From amongst such members of the Council, the Chairman and Vice-Chairman are to be nominated by President.

Section 4 of the Act deals with functions of the Council, which firstly, being advisory body can also discuss the matters and such Council can advice the Central Government and Government of States. The matters which the Council is empowered to discuss and recommend upon, should include matter relating to the field of economic and social planning; any matter relating to inter-state transport and communications and matters concerning power or flood control project. Secondly, for the purpose balancing development of the North-Eastern Areas, the Council is required to forward proposals in given respects. Moreover, the Council is required to review the implementation of project and schemes as per sub section (3) thereof. The Section 4 of the Act requires such Council to meet on the time fixed by Chairman of such Council and the proceedings under such meetings should to sent to the Central Government and other Governments of States. Further, Section 6 of the Act deals with nomination of officer by Ministries of the Central Government dealing with matters of Defence, Finance, Home Affairs and Planning, for attending the meetings of the Council.

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The Section 7 of the Act specifies the provisions as to Secretariat Staff, which includes Secretary, Planning Adviser, Financial Adviser and Security Adviser and also other employees the number of those employees to be fixed by the Central Government. Such Staff of Council required to perform their function under direction and control of Chairman of Council. And such Staff should also be paid salaries, allowances out of the amounts provided by the Parliament for said purpose. The Section 8 is important so far as it is connected to repealing provision. This Section repeals The North Eastern Council Act, 1970 (Act no. 26 of 1970)

The provisions of this Act was amended by the Act of 1975 i.e. The Government of Union Territories (Amendment) Act, 1975 (Act no. 29 of 1975). This Amending Act was provided amendment of Section 3 of the Act of 1971 where, Sub Section (1) under clause (b) of that Section was originally provides for persons to be consisted as members of Council, from the Chief Ministers of States of Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura and the Union Territory of Mizoram, however, after this amendment the Chief Minister of the Union territory of Mizoram and of Andhra Pradesh is also included under this category. And the clause (c) of the said section was omitted by this Amendment Act. The Act of 1971 was, further, amended by the North Easter Council (Amendment) Act, 2002 (Act No. 68 of 2002). And recently, the North Eastern Council (Amendment) Bill, 2013 was introduced on March 2013 with the view to seek further modification in the original Act.

Similarly, the North Easter Council has framed rules namely, North Easter Council Rules of Procedure, by exercising the power provided under sub Section (1) of Section 5 of the Act. Under these Rules, the Council provides for place of its meetings at Shillong and other relevant matters, like date and time, matters of consideration, agenda of the meetings should be fixed by Chairman of the Council as required under these Rules.  Similarly, these Rules makes all other aspects of meetings and other relevant matters very clear so as to provide for the effective implementation of the provisions of the Act in dealing with it object.

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by Faim Khalilkhan Pathan